Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) affect over 1 billion people – that’s 15 times the whole population of the UK! These people are amongst the poorest 40% and the most vulnerable, who often lack access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene.

The World Health Organization (WHO)* set targets in the 2011 roadmap  for global elimination of leprosy and lymphatic filariasis by 2020 – just five years away.  Provision of safe WASH, one of the five key interventions in the roadmap, is absolutely essential for the prevention of the diseases and care of the millions of people affected by them.

The recent World Health Organization (WHO) publication: “Water, Sanitation & Hygiene for accelerating and sustaining progress on Neglected Tropical Diseases” highlights the need for greater awareness, monitoring, planning and evaluation .** 

 “NTDs thrive under conditions of poverty and filth. They tend to cluster together in places where housing is substandard, drinking water is unsafe, sanitation is poor, access to health care is limited or non-existent, and insect vectors are constant household and agricultural companions.” - Margaret Chan, WHO Director General

We must leave no one behind whilst we aim for elimination, prioritising the poorest and most vulnerable people.  About one third of the world’s population (2.4 billion) lacks access to adequate sanitation, while 1 billion people practise open defecation and 663 million do not have access to improved sources of drinking water. 

Our targeted WASH programmes aim to improve the lives of thousands of people.  At the start of our project in Bangladesh’s Bogra district, we found that 45% of the 400 people we interviewed do not wash their hands after using a toilet and one in five people defecate in an open field.  Almost half of them store water in a pot or bucket without a lid.  Sixty per cent do not know if their water is safe.

Working with the village communities, we have built 25 water points and 29 latrines.  Many people in the village contribute to the construction by donating land, materials, labour or, in some cases, money.  On average, eight people use each water point and five each latrine.  We are also raising awareness of hygienic practices through schools and community groups to encourage changes in behaviour.